Stretching has never been my favorite part of working out. Sure, the cool down is technically the easiest part of an exercise class (certainly when compared to cranking up resistance on a spin bike until it “feels like you’re climbing through mud!”), but when I’m faced with the decision of choosing between hanging around a workout class for another 10 minutes, or grabbing a post-class bagel right now...well, the bagel wins. Every time.
Earlier this year, however, my lazy habits around stretching took a real toll on my body. I signed up for a spin boot camp where I had to complete 20 classes in just over two weeks. As fun as it was to push myself, however, the intense back-to-back workout sessions pushed my poor, tired legs to the limit. Even just sitting at my desk to work, my legs felt tight and achy.
In order to combat the issue, I booked two massages each week, and told the masseuse to really focus on my quads and calves. The massages offered a reprieve, but it was a time-consuming, expensive habit just to combat the soreness.
A Muscles Savior Cometh
One day during my boot camp, I happened to pop into the Theragun kiosk at the mall. I had heard of Theragun before, a line of “percussive therapy” tools that look like a futuristic laser out of Star Trek and act like a more extreme version of a massager. Except, in this case, the Theragun goes 60% deeper than other leading massagers on the market. It can also be paired with your smartphone via Bluetooth and boasts a battery life of 2 hours.
Testing out the Theragun at the kiosk, I believed it. This is not the normal back massage tool you might find on display in a Sharper Image. Instead, the Theragun is like an earthquake for your muscles, in the best way. All you have to do is grip the ergonomically-designed and handle and glide the gun gently over your body, and it’ll do the rest of the work without any loud, annoying buzzing noises.
While I found using the tool a little uncomfortable at first, after just a few minutes, I got used to the intense sensation and found it soothing to my sore muscles. When I learned that the Theragun went even deeper than a traditional deep tissue massage could and that you could get the full effects of a massage in mere minutes of use, I was sold. I purchased the mid-range product, the Theragun Prime for $299 on impulse, with a note to myself that if I did not actually use it, I would return the admittedly pricey purchase.
It took only a few days of quick Theragun sessions to realize that I was never, ever giving this thing up. My muscle soreness was all but gone, even when I skimped out on post-workout stretches. I also felt more flexible when I did stretch. I even saved money on massages, which could cost anywhere from $60 to $100 per week.
The Best Post-Hiking Massage
After my spin boot camp ended — and the coronavirus lockdown in California began — I started taking my workouts outdoors, where I could hike and stay socially distant. In lieu of spin class, I was going on steep, five mile hikes around Los Angeles on the regular. Normally, my calves would be on fire after these treks, especially when I stuck around the city to try out some of L.A.’s famous staircase hikes. Even a great stretching session didn’t do the job to ease the calf cramps.
The Theragun, however, did. Just a few minutes of gliding the massage tool over my calves offered immense relief, and made it possible for me to head out on the trail the very next day.
A Future Travel Companion
With hope the pandemic will come to an end soon, I’m already mentally planning my next trip. Whether that’s hiking around Vietnam (my post-pandemic dream!) or even touring around Italy, I know that I’ll be adding the Theragun to my packing list. In fact, I may spring for a new tool that’s made specifically for on-the-go percussive therapy. Recently, Theragun released the Theragun mini ($199), which is tiny enough to fit in a purse or carry-on while still packing a powerful punch.
It may be just the thing to add to next year’s birthday wish list, which, hopefully, will also come with plane tickets to somewhere I can stay active.